Have you ever been persuaded to buy shiny new cosmetics then gone straight back to your old favourites? Do you own things you don’t even know how to use? We report on a new service that asks what's in your beauty bag?
IT’S easy to understand the theory that, even in the deepest recession, sales of lipsticks always remain strong. The investment in your soul of one of those little tubes goes far beyond the few pounds it cost.
Even if your bank balance has taken on a worrying shade of red, a modest purchase from the beauty counter can bring the colour back to your cheeks and a glint to your eye.
The consequence of this easy indulgence for many women, however, is a bulging beauty bag, the dark recesses of which are likely to be hiding items that have never seen the light of day. It may be that you just forgot you had them, that you don't know what to do with them or even that you can't remember why you bought them in the first place.
So a new service being offered at Shine Hair & Beauty, at Preston Farm, near Yarm, could be just the thing to prompt a new year clear out.
Not only will make-up artist Alex Coates help you audit your purchases to see which really are worth keeping, but she will also advise how to use any not-tried-yet items and how to get the best from your everyday cosmetics.
Clients can have a beauty bag audit and makeover for just £25, or combine it with a blow-dry package starting at just £40 at Shine’s new express Blo-Bar.
"My starting point is to ask the client what help they want. For some it might be learning new techniques for applying products they've used for many years; for others it might be being taught how to use something they bought but have never really been sure about it; and for others it might be taking a completely fresh look and starting again," explained Alex, who is two years into a media make-up and hair design course at York College.
Finding the right shade of foundation, how to use serums, toners, moisturisers and cleansers and which are the best tools for applying different products are typical questions she is asked.
"Some clients are very confident about the products they use and have stuck, rightly or wrongly, with the same thing for years. Then I meet other ladies who have gone in a shop for one thing and come out with a bagful of different products they've been persuaded to try. It can be an expensive experiment," she adds.
Sarah Brennan, 48, of Girsby, near Yarm, and Anita Frazer, 48, of Hartburn, went along to Shine to seek Alex's advice and to get some new ideas. Old school friends of Shine owner Jacqui Elliott, the ladies say the new makeover service is the perfect addition to the hair salon.
Sarah, who has a 20-year-old son and a daughter, 14, said: "I feel I'm quite good at applying the make-up I have, but now my daughter is into it and I've been buying quite a few things for her, I've realised she's more up to date than me. She's introduced me to some new makes I'd never even heard of and now I really like them, but I still have things I've used for years."
Alex’s first recommendation is to use a primer - Photo Finish by Smashbox - to minimise the appearance of pores, improve radiance and provide a base to help make-up stay put for longer.
Sarah's choices for foundation are Chanel Vitalumiere in cameo for daytime and Nars Sheerglow in light5 for evening, shades which Alex agrees suit her skin tone.
"How you apply foundation is really down to personal choice, whether you use a brush, a sponge or your fingers. The secret is in the blending and the tool I really recommend is a buffer brush to sweep all over the face after you've applied your foundation to ensure it's completely blended with no obvious outer lines," says Alex.
For project manager and grandmother of one Anita, less is more. "I don't wear an awful lot of make-up and I'm quite happy to go out without any. When I do wear foundation I use a mousse that's quite light for day and a liquid foundation at night,” she says.
Sarah admits to liking Chanel eyeshadow for its easy application and blendability. "My current favourite, though, is Naked 2 by Urban Decay which I got for my daughter and now I really like."
One of the products Sarah took to Alex for advice was eye primer. Alex says: "Eye primer helps to stop eye shadow gathering in the creases of the eyelid and helps ensure even application. It's worth using especially if you need your eye make-up to last for a long day at work.
"If you like dark shades I recommend applying your eyeshadow before your foundation, so you can wipe away any that drops on your cheeks. Start in the corner and on the brown bone with your lightest shade, then with a medium shade in the middle and apply your darkest shade in the outer third and around to the crease."
Sarah has used Lancôme Artliner for many years, and Alex introduced her to Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade, a waterproof cream brow colour, in taupe which defined her brows without making them too heavy-looking.
Anita was keen to see a naked eye with a strong winged line. "I always wear liner on my top lids and I've watched countless YouTube videos to get the winged look but I haven't got the knack yet. I've tried loads of different liners in all different shades of black, but they never seem strong enough."
Alex recommends: "I start at the outside of the top the eye and draw in the line from the outside edge to where the lashes begin, then go to the corner and work back out to meet the outside edge."
Next comes contouring and highlighting, a more complex technique that takes some practice, applying a lighter shade along the nose and under the eyes, then a dark shade under the cheek bone.
"People can go a bit crazy with it and that can put other people off from trying it. Again, blending is the secret to ensure there are no distinct changes of shade. Dampening a blending sponge or brush can help," adds Alex, who has a Graftobian theatrical make-up palette in her professional kit.
For Sarah, the finishing touches are Mac Sheertone Shimmer Blush in springsheen while Anita opts for Revlon Powder Blush in rose classe.
For lips, it's a neutral liner in cappuccino from Rimmel for Sarah, and her favourite lipstick, Barbara by Nars, while Anita goes all dramatic with Rimmel's diva red or a neutral shade Glam Shine by L'Oreal.
Anita says: "It's been a really interesting afternoon. The biggest revelation for me is the buffer brush, I'll definitely be going out to buy one of those."
Sarah adds: "I'm glad I've learned how to use a primer, which I've never used before, and I thought the brow cream definitely made a difference."
* Beauty Bag Makeover appointments are available with Alex on Fridays and Saturdays at Shine, Preston Farm. Tel: 01642 670203.
Alex's Top Products
Photo Finish primer by Smashbox
Real Techniques brushes - available from Superdrug
Urban Decay eyeshadow pallet, especially suits-everyone Naked 2 - available from www.urbandecay.co.uk
Revlon Colorstay liquid liner - from Boots
Anastasia Beverly Hills original contour kit - as above